The 2022 Acworth Recruiting Motorsport Australia Queensland Rally Championship finally got underway on the weekend and did so in style, as RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship regulars Ronnie Bustard and Larisa Biggar won the thrilling event.
A healthy field of 51 crews were entered in the Globe Roamer III Imbil Rally run by the Brisbane Sporting Car Club, with Bustard and Biggar beating Clay Badenoch and James Wilson by just four seconds.
Rounding out the podium was the returning Marius Swart and Ryan Preston – the VW Polo S2000 almost three minutes behind the front two crews.
While the final results looked a dominant display from both Bustard and Badenoch, it was far from it as two of the opening three stages were claimed by event favourites, Ryan Smart and Brad Jones.
Smart enjoyed a solid start to the event, steering his Datsun Stanza to a 16-second stage win, before Bustard slightly reduced the deficit having taken out the second stage by one second.
That same stage saw event contenders Tristan Carrigan and Jenny Prince forced to retire after a CV failure on their Alfa Romeo 147 was identified, promoting Bustard to second overall.
A spin from Bustard on the third stage allowed Smart to push the gap out to 47 seconds after he won the third stage by 17 seconds over the Mitsubishi Magna of Andrew Carrigan and Liam Hinschen.
The next major drama struck on the fourth stage as Smart’s Datsun got stuck off-road for an hour – forcing them to hand the lead over to the 4WD Mitsubishi Evo 9 of Bustard and Biggar after they ran out of late time.
The new leaders celebrated their new position by a shared stage win with Carrigan and Hinschen, who became the next big casualty after their Mitsubishi Magna sustained cracked brake rotor.
Following on from midday service, Smart was back on the road and picked up where he left off, winning the fifth stage by 13 seconds, before Badenoch got his first win of the day on stage six, capitalising on Bustard’s damaged Evo and reducing the gap between the top two crews to just one second.
As Smart comfortably won the penultimate stage, nothing could separate Badenoch and Bustard with the duo both 12 seconds behind Smart and the latter still holding onto his one second lead.
In an epic final stage, Bustard secured the win after beating Badenoch by three seconds and the Irishman was thrilled, despite having issues midway through the rally.
“It was an excellent rally with an unexpected result thanks to Larry (Biggar) and the work she puts in,” Bustard said.
“Unfortunately, I pushed too hard on the double causeway on stage five and caused damage to the front of the car, which meant we had to slow to the end of the stage to assess the damage.
“Luckily nothing had failed or completely broken except for the front engine mounting, and we had considered calling it a day at this point, but we decided to continue until the car stopped, which meant a slower run in sixth to see if the car would get any worse.
“Thankfully the car held together and with no mistakes we managed to be fastest and take our first rally win in the QRC.
“I would like to thank Larry for asking me to do the rally and the work she puts into the rally as this is what got us the win.”
Click here for full results.
Although Badenoch and Wilson missed out on the overall win, they still took out the outright 2WD victory, beating the outright fourth placed John McHugh and Darren Whyte, as well as the East Coast Classic Rally Series 2WD win.
Claiming the Next Level Creations Queensland Clubman Series was Glenn Mitchell and Tony Arbon in a classic Ford Escort over Michelle Van Der Wilk and Kass Brumley in a Subaru WRX, while a strong field in the Virtual Security Guard Queensland Novice Series saw Nissan Skyline pilots Steven Casper and Mark Malpas the best of the rookie drivers.
Taking out the junior category was the popular Michael Gill steering a Hyundai Excel, while Alex Cherry was the top ranked junior co-driver.